PC Organic Pretzels

September 21st, 2007 by Potato

I take a fair number of shopping surveys, and one question often asked is how I perceive organic products. Organic products often cost more, but aren’t necessarily of higher quality, though it’s a somewhat common misconception that they are. With the PC organics line though, it looks like they take that rather modest price increase and decide to put a bit of extra quality in there to justify it beyond the organic label: I’ve had rather good experience with most of the PC organics products I’ve tried, particularly the chips (that they then discontinued on me). It’s sort of like the opposite of decaf coffee: there’s nothing about the decaffeination process that harms the flavour of coffee, but since it’s an expensive process manufacturer’s tend to use cheaper beans for the decaf line so that the end product is the same price. (Thank you, Alton Brown, for more random food trivia)

So this week I decided to give PC’s organic pretzels a try. It was promising: the bags were sized about right for me (smaller than the giant Rold Gold pretzel bags, but larger than an individual snack size), and they also had 50% less salt than Rold Gold. While I love salty snacks such as pretzels, I don’t like it when they’re too salty, and often find myself knocking off a lot of that coarse salt. However, I just haven’t had much luck with reduced-salt pretzels: the Hannover bag I tried some time ago was rather tasteless, but it had less than a third of the salt of Rold Gold. So I thought that the PC Organics should have been a happy medium, and they were fairly healthy beyond that (loaded with carbs, sure, but very low in fat). They were also featured in the Loblaws (or was it the RCSS?) flyer this week.

They were awful. I was really disappointed in them. They were quite hard to chew, and very nearly tasteless. It was, as Wayfare put it, “like chewing glazed cardboard”. They won’t be getting another chance. And damn them for marketing to me! I was sucked in by the ads!

I find it odd sometimes how taste can be affected so much by changing the salt (or sugar). I don’t know if it was also due to the brand change, but those reduced salt pretzels were nearly tasteless (not quite as bad as the PC ones, since they at least had a decent texture, but pretty boring). Likewise, the 1/3 less sugar Frosted Flakes and Froot Loops were fairly terrible as well. Yet everything I know about human taste perception says that it’s logarithmic: taking away half the salt or sugar shouldn’t make it taste half as good, it should be more like a 30% change. Indeed, Campbell’s for a long while had 50% reduced salt tomato soup and I could never tell the difference (nowadays I don’t seem to find that variety, so I don’t know if they just stopped bothering with the original and now sell the reduced salt version as the normal one, or if they gave up on the slightly healthier choice).

And if anyone from President’s Choice is reading this, please bring back my thick-cut organic potato chips in the medium-sized bags! (They don’t even have to be organic, just yummy!)

Comments are closed.